The American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne visiting London describes in his diary a breakfast party given by Monckton Milnes in 1857. Breakfast parties were then fashionable opportunities to discuss books and politics:
“Mr Milnes introduced me to Mrs Browning [Elizabeth Barrett Browning, wife of Robert]. She is a small, delicate woman, with ringlets of dark hair, a pleasant, intelligent face, and a low, agreeable voice. She looks youthful and comely, and is very gentle and ladylike. And so we proceeded to the breakfast room, which is hung round with pictures, and in the middle of it stood a large round…
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